A Black man has sued the city of Galveston, Texas, and its police department for $1 million after being arrested and led by rope by two cops on horseback.
According to CBS News, a suit filed on behalf of 44-year-old Donald Neely in a Galveston County District Court alleges that the officers were negligent and their behavior was “extreme and outrageous.” Last year, Neely was homeless and sleeping on a sidewalk in front of the Galveston Park Board of Trustees building when Galveston police arrested him for criminal trespass.
The officers initially called for a separate transport but none was available. One of the officers could be heard on body camera footage saying that walking Neely by rope would be a “bad” look. Despite knowing the optics, the officers proceeded to lead Neely to the mounted patrol staging area by rope.
The fact they knew this was fucked up and just did it anyway is probably the most frustrating thing about this situation. Dude was simply sleeping on a sidewalk; it’s not like there was a sense of danger or urgency to the situation.
“Especially being African-American. Not that we lived in that day and time, but we all studied. We know the history, and to think in 2019 they saw fit to treat him like they would have treated us back then, it’s just very disturbing,” Christin Neely, Neely’s sister-in-law, told KTRK in August.
The lawsuit states that the incident “humiliated” Neely and the erratic behavior of one of the horses made him feel like he was in danger, according to Insider. “Neely felt as though he was put on display as slaves once were,” the lawsuit said. “He suffered from fear because one of the horses was acting dangerously, putting Neely in fear of being drug down the street by a run-away horse.”
Galveston Police Department’s Police Chief Vernon L. Hale issued an apology after the body camera footage was released. “First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for the unnecessary embarrassment. Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest,” Hale said in his apology.
According to KHOU, the incident resulted in a new policy being created to prevent a situation like this from ever happening again. The new policy limits mounted patrols to ceremonial and honorary events. When a mounted patrolman does make an arrest, they must now call for a patrol unit to transport the arrested individual. Should a transport not be readily available, the patrolman must wait with the arrested individual until one arrives.
The criminal trespass charges against Neely were eventually dropped, and his lawsuit alleges malicious prosecution related to the charges. Neely’s suit also requests a trial by jury.